Communication is a remarkable process, and all creatures do it differently. Animals use language to warn one another of nearby predators, point out good food sources, and find mates. From vocal cues to gestures to eye contact, here are some of the fascinating ways different animals communicate.
Elephants are masters of communication, and they can even talk to each other over long distances. This is because they can produce sound waves that travel for miles. These sound waves are at such a low frequency that humans can’t hear them, but we can feel them if they’re strong enough. Researchers guess that elephants can hear each other across distances as great as 175 miles.
Larger species of whales use special sound patterns—sometimes known as whale songs—to communicate with one another. Male humpback whales are particularly good composers. They use whale songs to communicate with their mates, and they even incorporate rhythm and rhyming into their singing. Some scientists theorize that these whales use rhymes to remember some of their more complex songs—the same way rhyming couplets help us remember the words to a song or poem.
Even the tiniest of animals have unique ways of communicating with each other. Honeybees communicate in a few different ways, but the most interesting is definitely through dance. Honeybees tell each other about nearby food sources by dancing. The angle, direction, and intensity of movement indicates where a food source is located in relation to the hive. There are different dances for different occasions as well. For example, if a bee comes back with quality pollen or nectar, its fellow workers will dance and vibrate their wings to indicate their approval.
Ravens are particularly clever creatures. They use their beaks and wings to gesture to objects—much like how humans point to something when they talk about it. This communication method is most often used by mating pairs. A raven will gesture to or offer an item such as a stone or twig as a sign of affection.
Of all the fascinating ways different animals communicate, mole rats’ way of communicating is particularly unique. Mole rats live in underground burrows, where light and sound don’t travel enough for them to use visual or vocal communication methods. Instead, some species of mole rats communicate with each other through head-banging. They hit their heads against the walls of their tunnels in order to send messages to each other. They use the speed and intensity of these thumps to create different meanings.
Caribbean Reef Squid
You probably know that certain types of squids can change their appearance, but did you know that the Caribbean reef squid uses this talent to communicate? By expanding or contracting the pigment cells on their bodies, these squids can display different patterns and colors that share information. Caribbean reef squids change their color to show their mood, look for potential mates, or share information such as the location of a nearby predator.
Humans aren’t the only animals that sing to themselves. Silverback gorillas have many ways of communicating with each other, and one of them is through humming. Dominant gorillas will hum to call the rest of the group to dinner. Others will hum while eating to show that they’re enjoying their food.